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Tax Angles for Self-employed Individuals

Posted by Marty Williams, CPA on Jul 20, 2017 7:00:54 AM

iStock-538181838-862028-edited.jpgNumerous tax aspects to consider

Being self-employed has its advantages and disadvantages. As the person in charge of your business affairs, you can set your own schedule and generally have more flexibility than someone in a 9-to-5 job. On the other hand, you are fully responsible for the bottom line, often with little or no backup to rely on.

What about taxes? There are a number of special considerations for self-employed individuals.

Generally, you are required to file an annual return and pay your tax liability in quarterly installments, as opposed to regular employees who have these amounts withheld from their paychecks. This includes requirements to pay both income tax and self-employment tax, the equivalent of federal payroll taxes owed by employees (both employee and employer portions).

The amount of tax you owe depends on your taxable self-employment income or “profit”.  Essentially, this is the business revenue minus your expenses, used to determine your profit or loss. If you show a profit, you owe income tax and self-employment tax on the profit amount. Conversely, you may be able to deduct a loss against your other income for the year, subject to certain rules and limits.

For 2017, the rate for self-employment tax is 15.3% on the first $127,200 of self-employment income and 2.9% on self-employment income above that annual base. This rate appears higher than it is for regular employees because you are paying both the employee and employer portions.  You are allowed a deduction for half the self-employment tax you pay on your personal tax return so do not miss that.

The quarterly due dates for paying tax throughout the year are the same as the due dates for other taxpayers without adjusted withholdings such as retirees. These dates are

*April 15 for the first quarter;

*June 15 for the second quarter;

*September 15 for the third quarter; and

*January 15 of the following year for the fourth quarter.

Note: If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, it is moved to the next business day.

In addition to these basic tax requirements, self-employed individuals may realize certain tax benefits. For instance, if you work out of your home, as many self-employed individuals do, you may qualify for home office deductions because the home is the principal place of your business. This enables you to write off expenses directly related to your home office plus a portion of other home expenses—such as utilities, repairs, and insurance—based on the business percentage use of the home or utilize the simplified method. Regular employees who work from home at night and on weekends typically do not qualify for this deduction.

Similarly, if you use a vehicle to drive to and from business activities, you may deduct costs relating to the vehicle, based on the business percentage use. Be aware that there are strict record-keeping rules and other restrictions in this area, but vehicle deductions can result in significant tax benefits if you toe the line.

Finally, you could claim other tax breaks available to other businesses, including deductions for your “ordinary and necessary” business expenses and special considerations apply for retirement planning. Again, special rules and limits may apply.

This is only a general overview of some common tax aspects for self-employed individuals. For more information on the above article or individual services, contact Marty Williams, CPA by calling (334) 887-7022 or by leaving us a message below.  

Topics: Individual Tax

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